Book Review: The Family Remains

Book Review: The Family Remains

One brisk morning on the banks of the Thames, an unsuspecting mud larker is shaken to discover a bag containing human remains. DCI Samuel Owusu is called to investigate what appears to be a very cold case. Using extraordinary foresight and intelligence, DCI Owusu follows the clues, which lead back to a large house in Chelsea. A house where pop stars resided, a suicide pact took place, and a baby was left at the centre of it all. As the history of the house is unravelled, the people who grew up there take us on a journey to outrun their past and try to reconnect with old faces.

Being a huge fan of crime thriller books, on reading “The Family Upstairs” I realised that it stood out as one of the best and most well-written in the recent past. The book managed to enthral me long after reading and has stayed with me ever since. Upon learning there was a sequel being released, I couldn’t have been more excited. As much as I had loved The Family Upstairs, I felt I needed to know more about the characters and The Family Remains does not fail to provide. Unusual though it is to write a sequel to a thriller book, Lisa Jewell does not disappoint.

The move away from Libby’s character in this book was a welcome one and offers us the chance to meet new characters, as well as re-visiting familiar ones. Most of the story is told through Henry Lamb’s perspective, and I found this character to be one of the most complex and intriguing that I have delved into for a long time. Intense and yet vulnerable, Lisa manages to encapsulate the shades of grey perfectly and, though Henry may appear disturbing at times, you find yourself being able to understand the actions of a desperate man. Alongside Henry, we revisit Lucy, a mother who is trying to provide a safe and comfortable home for her family, despite all the obstacles in her way. Them we are introduced to Rachel, a young bold woman desperate to find her own way in life. I found Rachel’s chapters some of the most brutal yet heart-warming of the book.

Lisa Jewell has managed to write a novel that is exhilarating, thought-provoking and rewarding. By the end, this book may have you questioning your own moral standpoints, as I found myself rooting for characters who had done some questionable things. While this book could be read as a stand-alone, and there is enough back story provided to ensure you would not be lost, I would recommend reading the Family Upstairs first, as this enables a deep connection with characters. A thoroughly gripping read.


Lisa Jewell author
Lisa Jewell
Photo Credit Andrew Whitton

Lisa Jewell’s first novel, Ralph’s Party, was the best- selling debut novel of 1999. Since then she has written another eighteen novels, most recently a number of dark psychological thrillers, including The Girls, Then She Was Gone and The Family Upstairs (all of which were Richard & Judy Book Club picks). Lisa is a New York Times and Sunday Times number one bestselling author who has been published worldwide in over twenty-five languages. Lisa is also the subject of a fascinating new biography written by Will Brooker.

The Family Remains, like Lisa’s other thrillers is published by Cornerstone.

The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell was reviewed for Books Up North by Charleigh Christmas 

Charleigh has just finished a degree in Criminology in Sheffield and has recently been offered a role as a Probation Officer in training.
An avid book lover from a very young age, Charleigh has worked in bookshops and has helped with literature festivals for many years, allowing her to feed a passion to read and review books. Alongside this, Charleigh reviewed shows in the Lyceum and Crucible theatres for Fairy Powered Productions, a role she thoroughly enjoyed. One of her many hobbies, when not at the gym, is driving to the Peak district to enjoy the beautiful views.


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